Chunks of succulent raw ahi tuna dressed up with a light sesame ginger vinaigrette star in my customizable Healthy Tuna Poke Bowl… This nutritious powerhouse dish is bursting with flavor, and so quick and easy to make!
About Poke Bowls
Having spent nearly 22 years in a land-locked state (New Mexico), I missed the food trend that had apparently taken coastal mainland U.S. by storm – poke bowls.
My introduction to poke bowls came during our first trip to south Texas’ South Padre Island. Our favorite little eatery Ceviche Ceviche makes them, and while I could not tear myself away from their insanely delicious ceviche, I did ask for a quick lesson on poke and poke bowls. Poke (pronounced poh-kay) means “to cut” in Hawaiian, and traditionally includes thick cubes of raw tuna.
Traditionally, the tuna is served with sushi rice, but the new poke bowls incorporate a variety of fresh veggies, carbs, and signature sauces. You may even find a poke bowl with salmon, octopus, or tofu!
Flexibility with Recipes
I love this casual approach to meal planning – lots of healthy and fresh ingredients tied together with a flavorful sauce or seasoning mixture. It’s so easy (and fun) to offer many options, and allow your diners to customize their own bowls…
This approach is similar to my Tropical Buddha Bowls with Plantains, Black Beans, and Mango Salsa with an entirely different flavor profile. 😀 The tuna soaks up the flavors of a savory, umami-rich ginger sesame vinaigrette while the vegetables and garnishes are prepped.
Making Healthy Tuna Poke Bowls
How are your knife skills? This dish is all prep work… Well, almost! You do have to cook your rice and mix the dressing.
Obviously, I chose to use black rice, and I’d cooked it the previous day when I was testing the recipe. Chilling it overnight had the added benefit of allowing me to mold it – a nice aesthetic touch to my pretty platter don’t you think?
Variations on the “Template”
My aim with this post is to provide you with a “template” (my hubby’s word) to make the recipe your own. Don’t get fixated on black rice, though its nutritional stats are impressive and the texture so appealing. If you love quinoa, use quinoa. If you want more of a sushi experience, use sushi rice. You can go totally low-carb on this (if you must), and skip that altogether.
As I mentioned, I LOVE TUNA. RAW TUNA. ALL THE RAW TUNA. Perhaps you don’t, and that’s okay! You can sub in the best quality raw fish you can get at your fish monger or seafood counter.
Raw means sushi or sashimi grade. Shellfish (think scallops, shrimp, octopus, squid) would be amazing as well. If raw makes you squirm, use cooked fish but don’t tell me. 😉 I think grilled and cubed chicken and quick-fried tofu would be delicious as well.
On to the greens: I tried a couple of options including shredded napa cabbage, but we loved the texture of spiralized zucchini. Broccoli slaw, julienned (or spiralized) cucumbers, bok choy, red leaf lettuce, etc. make great alternatives. If you have a spiralizer, what are your favorites?
I think we had the most fun with the garnishes. I pulled out my pickled ginger (something I keep on hand for sushi), a package of “seaweed snacks” (aka dried wakame), and a jar of furikake (rice seasoning).
Fresno chile sliced thin, chopped scallions, and fresh cilantro were great additions. Toasted sesame seeds, chopped cashews, IDK, what do you love? If it speaks “Asian” to you, try it! This is a playful and fun dish that begs creativity. 🙂 Go for it!
I really do want to emphasize the flexibility of Healthy Tuna Poke Bowls. Think template rather than recipe. It really is freeing to break free from books and recipes and learn to cook with flavor profiles and a well-stocked pantry. I’d love to hear your thoughts…
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, pure olive, rapeseed, coconut
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon miso
- 1-2 teaspoons sriracha sauce, to taste
Bowl - Proteins (Select 1 or a combination)
- 1 pound sashimi grade ahi tuna, (see notes)
- 1 pound other fresh, raw or cooked seafood
- 1 pound cubed grilled chicken breast
- 1 tub extra firm tofu, pressed, cubed, fried or baked
Bowl - Vegetables (Choose Several)
- 1 large zucchini, spiralized or matchsticks
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced very thin
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- shredded napa cabbage
- baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 avocado, diced
- red onion, sliced thin
Bowl - Base (Choose One)
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice
- 2 cups cooked black rice
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
Bowl - Garnishes (Choose Several)
- furikake (Japanese rice seasoning)
- pickled ginger
- toasted sesame seeds
- scallions, chopped
- Fresno or jalapeno chile, sliced thin
- Prepare your chosen base if you're not using leftovers. I used chilled black rice that I'd made the previous day, and pressed it into a bowl to mold it for presentation. This step is totally optional.
- Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.
- Cut your protein into 1/2" cubes. Add to a small prep bowl, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Allow it to soak while you prep the remaining ingredients.
- Prepare your veggies and garnishes. You may wish to arrange on a large platter and allow diners to make their own bowl, or skip that step, and make individual bowls as you go. It's all about flexibility and personal preferences!
- Drizzle each bowl with some of the remaining dressing, and preferred garnishes.
- Dig in!
This is a GREAT way to use leftover rice, quinoa, etc. If you're cutting back on carbs, you can omit a "base" altogether. The choice is yours! Think "template" not recipe!
I can get great, local, fresh fish in McAllen year 'round. As I mentioned, we LOVE tuna. Salmon would be awesome, as would be hamachi (Japanese amberjack or yellowtail). I cannot over-stress the importance of using high-quality, fresh fish for this dish. If you can't get it, and want to try the dish, you may be able to find good quality frozen wild caught tuna. You can thaw slowly in the refrigerator (helps preserve texture), and still use it raw, or you can cook it. Chicken and tofu would be good options though.
I included 1/2 cup cooked black rice in my nutrition information. This is more than enough for my husband and me. I used raw ahi tuna, black rice, zucchini, radishes, avocado, red onion, edamame (1/4 cup per serving), Fresno chile, scallion in my calculations. The actual calories will depend on how much dressing, garnish, etc. Obviously, some of the dressing isn't consumed.
Macronutrients (aproximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 469 calories; 37 g protein; 30 g carbohydrates; 23 g fats.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 469 Total Fat: 23g Carbohydrates: 30g Protein: 37g